Nabbing the top spot in Jezebel Magazine?s Best of 2013 contest for best night club, Opera Nightclub presents old-fashioned red-curtain glamour. After cracking the dress code, VIPs can romp freely through all areas under the club?s 100-foot ceilings, including a VIP-only upstairs area with cozy private nooks. Cash in two drink tickets for a beer or a cocktail to delicately balance while finally perfecting the Super Bowl Shuffle, or take in the deck?s panoramic view of the city and its galactic ceiling. Opera?s crowd-charming DJs spin top 40 hits alongside genre-specific jams, catering to hip-hop hankerings and salsa appetites alike.
Surrounded by rustic brick walls, the guests at MillTown Arms Tavern raise frosty pints in celebration of their favorite teams' triumphs. Flat-screen televisions flicker with the evening's games, and dartboards aid guests in deciding who pays the tab or who is slightly lopsided. The patio seating gives diners an infusion of vitamin D as they enjoy a full menu of pub-style grub, including fish 'n' chips, enchiladas, hot dogs, and caprese salads.
Discovery Channel's Moonshiners recently filmed at Stillhouse Craft Burgers & Moonshine—a newly opened bar and restaurant that stocks all the moonshine Georgia has to offer. Bartenders often use this white lightning as the base for cocktails, which is sometimes aged for a month in the charred-oak barrels behind the bar. In addition to infusing these spirits with regional ingredients such as peaches and watermelon, they allow guests to smoke their drinks with flavors ranging from apple to maple wood chips. Then they garnish glasses with local berries, fresh fruit juice, and housemade syrups.
In the kitchen, chefs create a menu of burgers with grass-fed beef, Coca-Cola moonshine marinated chicken, and ground duck. They surround these patties with housemade condiments before baking cheese right onto the bun. In lieu of a towering burger, guests can choose from small plates, salads, and sides such as spicy macaroni and cheese or fried green tomatoes. Seating includes a mix of booths and whiskey-barrel tables, as well as a wooden back bar. Below their feet guests will find a stone floor; above them, a ceiling of copper drop tiles. These tiles call to mind Georgia's stills, which have traditionally used copper in the process of turning the moon's tears into moonshine.
Jerry Slater’s goal for H. Harper Station was a simple one: he envisioned it as a place where he and his friends would spend time on their days off. What resulted was a cozy mix of old and new, a combination that represents more than just the former train depot that the bar and restaurant inhabits. “Slater comes up with a slew of original cocktails, as the times demand. But his mastery of the classics is what really stands out,” a review in Garden & Gun says. Slater’s cocktails span from the fernet egg cream—a blend of crème de cacao, heavy cream, chocolate bitters, a whole egg, and, of course, fernet—to traditional brazilian caipirinhas and old-fashioneds. He also fills punch bowls for four–six people, each spiked with jamaican rum and peach whiskey or bourbon and housemade ginger beer. As for H. Harper’s food menu, diners can share small plates of shrimp and grits or ask for a few spare ones to juggle while they wait for entrees, such as the carolina trout with hazelnut vinaigrette. The kitchen also serves up brunch and dessert. In the dining room, the rustic wood-beam ceiling and exposed-brick walls are set against softer accents such as chandeliers, votive candles, and fresh flowers.
Eleventh Street Pub may be “midtown Atlanta’s favorite neighborhood pub,” and it achieves a remarkably friendly, comfortable vibe, which is especially surprising because it is in the middle of town, adjacent to a hotel. Located on the corner of 11th Street and Peachtree, large front windows, light wood paneling and a sturdy wooden bar make patrons feel like they never left their neighborhood. The bar offers traditional pub fare, including mozzarella sticks, burgers and chicken tenders, as well as almost a dozen beers on tap and many others in bottles. Thursday nights are trivia nights and provide a great opportunity to make new friends. The establishment is two floors and still allows smoking.
Midtown Atlanta has plenty of gay bar options, but Burkhart’s Pub remains a popular spot due to its weekend-only drag shows, which kick off to capacity crowds at 11 p.m. If you’re hoping to catch the show yourself – or simply want to enjoy the tiny dance floor – plan on arriving early, lest you be left out in the cold. Smoking is allowed in certain parts of the bar, and with cheap drinks and a friendly crowd nearly every night of the week, Burkhart’s remains a low-key spot for the city’s gay population to come together. Waits at the bar can be lengthy during peak hours, but with a neon-lit second level and plenty of nooks for hiding away in, there’s always at least a little room to maneuver.